Derby delight for Aidan O'Brien as Serpentine win puts him out on his own

Ballydoyle trainer had earlier clinched the Oaks when Ryan Moore steered Love to a nine-length victory over stable companion Ennistymon

Horse Racing - Derby Festival - Epsom Downs Racecourse, Epsom, Britain - July 4, 2020  Serpentine ridden by Emmet McNamara wins the Investec Derby, as racing resumed behind closed doors after the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)   George Selwyn/Pool via REUTERS     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Aidan O’Brien scooped the English Classic double with a record-breaking eighth Derby success while stretching his record in the Oaks to eight in arguably one of his best days at Epsom on Saturday.

Serpentine under Emmet McNamara produced an exhilarating run to win the Derby from Emirati owner Ahmad Al Shaikh’s Khalifa Sat by five and-a-half lengths.

The result put O’Brien out on his own as the leading trainer of the crown jewel of the English Classic, which he previously shared with Robert Robson, John Porter and Fred Darling.

The Ballydoyle trainer had earlier clinched the Oaks when Ryan Moore steered Love to a nine-length victory over stable companion Ennistymon under Seamie Heffernan.

O’Brien, who watched the races on television back home in Tipperary to avoid quarantine procedures when travelling out of Ireland, said described Serpentine's win as “unbelievable”.

“We always thought he would stay very well,” he said. “He won at the Curragh last week over a mile and a quarter and Wayne [Lordan] said he galloped right through the line and he couldn't pull him up.

“I am delighted for the owners as this is obviously another Classic-winning homebred by Galileo.”

McNamara had Serpentine well clear from the rest of the field in the early part of the race and he continued to hold that lead as they turned for home.

Khalifa Sat led the chasing pack and stayed on strongly under Tom Marquand to take second from another O’Brien runner Amhran Na Bhfiann (William Buick) and Kameko (Oisin Murphy) half-a-length and a nose down the field.

“I think I got a little bit of a freebie really,” McNamara, who enjoyed his greatest day as a jockey, said.

“I had a huge amount of confidence in the horse having spoken to Aidan during the week, he said he thought the horse would stay a mile and six furlongs well.

“He told me to give him a breather around the six-furlong mark and then to keep building to that winning post because the horse would keep going. Thank god he was right.

“I couldn't see a thing around me and I didn't really want to be looking, so I wasn't aware of how far clear I was. It's surreal to have won this race, I can't believe it.”

Love had earlier pulverised the opposition and Moore said she was exceptional on the day.

O’Brien has both the Irish Oaks (18 July) and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (4 October) as possible targets for Love.

“She was working incredibly well,” he said. “She’s very special, and it’s hard to say you could ever have a better filly than that.

“We saw what she did in the Guineas, by three or four lengths, and she doubled that today and it’s only her second run of the year.

“The Irish Oaks is going to be a possibility … but you’d have to [think about the Arc]. We’ll see how she is before any decision. We know what three-year-old fillies can do in the Arc.

“It depends on whether she has a summer break now or takes in another run and has a break after that.”

Emirati owners enjoyed a fine day, bagging three of the seven prizes that was on offer at the meeting.

Twaasol in the silks of Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid took the opening Class 2 Investec Woodcote EBF Stakes and Rashed bin Ghadayer’s Sky Defender was successful in the Class 2 Investec Handicap, the third race.

Godolphin’s Summer Romance bagged the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes, the fifth race, from Cloak Of Spirits in the silks of Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed Obaid.